The Grammys have a new award: Songwriter of the Year

Coming to the Grammy Awards next year: a new award for songwriter of the year.

This award, bestowed in recognition of “writing excellence, profession, and the art of songwriting,” is one of the few tweaks to the Grammy rules for the 65th annual ceremony.

Four other new categories are coming, including Best Alternative Music Performance, American Music Performance, Spoken Poetry Album and Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media, announced the Recording Academy, the organization behind the Grammys. There will also be a new merit award for best music for social change, chosen by a special committee.

The biggest change is the composer award. Since the first Grammy Awards in 1959, Song of the Year has been one of the most prestigious awards, going to songwriters of a single song. The first winners were Franco Migliacci and Domenico Modugno, for “Nel Blu, Dipinto di Blu” (better known as “Volare”), and the most recent award went to Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak and two collaborators for “Leave the Door Open”. .”

In recent years, songwriters have been pushing the Recording Academy for greater recognition, which comes gradually. At the 60th annual Grammy Awards in 2018, songwriters were added to the vote for album of the year, though only if they contributed at least 33% of an LP; for the 2022 show, this cap was removed, allowing any credited composer of new material to be nominated. (Samples don’t count, and neither do composers of old songs — hence Cole Porter’s omission this year for Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett’s “Love for Sale” album.) In 2021, the academy created a songwriters and songwriters wing to its members.

The new category, officially called (non-classical) composer of the year – although there is no classical counterpart – will be aimed at a single composer or a team of composers for a given body of work. A similar approach has long been adopted for Producer of the Year.

“The intent with this new category is to recognize professional songwriters who write music for other artists to make a living,” said Harvey Mason Jr., chief executive of the Recording Academy. “This dedicated award highlights the importance of songwriting’s significant contribution to the musical process and, as a non-performing composer, I am thrilled to see this award come to life.”

Among the other changes this year is the creation of “craft committees” in three classic categories. Teams of experts will have the final word on who votes for producer of the year (classical), best engineering album (classical) and best contemporary classical composition. The move follows some grumbling in the classical world about last year’s nomination of Jon Batiste – the jazz band leader and TV personality who won album of the year – for the contemporary songwriting award. (The award went to Caroline Shaw.)

The move is notable as last year the academy eliminated its controversial nominating committees, which acted as an invisible hand in dozens of categories, although craft committees have been retained for categories like engineering and packaging that require special expertise.

The new categories arrive after a series of reductions over a decade ago. In 2011, for example, the academy dropped 31 categories, consolidating many separate men’s and women’s awards and cutting some in areas like classical and latin. Two years earlier, the polka category – where annual entries had shrunk to just 20 titles – was cut after 24 years.

The last Grammy ceremony, in April, featured 86 categories. In the first, there were 28.

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